One member of the public commented on the website of The Guardian (a London newspaper) yesterday that:
“I feel our sense of tradition and our warmth towards our old institutions needs to change, we need to stop thinking they are there to take care of us. If they are to continue to exist, they need to do so within a mandate of our choosing, rather than us existing within one of theirs.”
That truly is about the sum of it. And it’s also worth adding that there is in many cases a choice to be made between one set of traditions and another, between those of a folk culture from within and a ‘high’ culture from without. Often it is the outside view looking in that is privileged and the inside view looking out that is condemned to silence. The media will always seek out the local who agrees with their metropolitan outlook and dismiss the rest as quaint.
The Crown, the Church, the City, and, of course, Parliament, are traditions we are supposed to value. Our own traditions – our shires, our boroughs, our whole culture, especially our dialect – are not valued but are pulled and kicked about for advantage and amusement. Which is why central to any programme for constitutional reform must be a true empowerment of the regions, not as agents of whatever party happens to command a Commons majority but as something much, much more valuable than anything national can be. A living heritage with roots deep in the land of Wessex. THAT is a transformation to take us far beyond mere politics.